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The History and Uses of Terracotta in Construction projects in Chania, Crete, Greece.

The History and Uses of Terracotta in Construction Projects

The word terracotta originates quite literally from the Italian translation “baked earth” and its use across the globe has a prominent place in history (and continues to be vastly used today).

One of its earliest reference points was in prehistoric art, with some of the oldest pottery of time being found as far back as 24,000 BC. Interestingly, these early pieces were found to be Palaeolithic terracotta figurines, rather than cooking vessels, as you might expect, demonstrating how widely terracotta has been used in the art.

Properties

Terracotta is one of the most distinct types of clay you’ll find, given its rich, rust red/orange coloring. The reason for this distinct color is that the iron content in terracotta’s clay body reacts with oxygen and gives it a hue that ranges through reds, oranges, yellows, and even pinks.

The properties of terracotta are that it’s a porous clay to work with, and it can also be used glazed and unglazed, which adds to its appeal. One coat of glaze is needed to make it waterproof. When terracotta is glazed, bright colors are often favored because they work brilliantly with terracotta’s low-firing temperature (approximately 1100 C/2012 F to 1200 C/2192 F to create a striking contrast with its orange body). These low firing temperatures also mean lower energy costs.

In some cases, terracotta has been fired as low as 600 degrees Celsius. Majolica ware can be created with terracotta by bisque-firing the terracotta pieces and painting them with an opaque white glaze and firing them again. Sometimes, nothing more than a clear glaze needs to be used on terracotta to enhance its natural fired color and give it a great shine.

Primitive pieces of terracotta were just left to harden and bake in the hot sun, while later pieces (before kilns) were fired in the ashes of open fires. Another great property that terracotta has is that it can withstand varied temperature changes with a lower chance of cracking, making it incredibly functional.

Where to Find It

One of the biggest reasons that terracotta is so prevalent in history across so many genres is that it can be found anywhere and is known as being the most commonly found clay across every continent. Terracotta is usually not a pure clay and is found mixed with other minerals full of flux and plenty of iron oxide.

What would you do with a lump of terracotta clay? Would you build a new flower pot or perhaps a new wall for your property? There’s no project too big or small for terracotta! Contact us to discuss with our team your next project.

Chania Civil Engineering and solutions for residential properties
Archaeological Museum of Chania: Teracotta figurine of a woman

Teracotta figurine of a woman, which preserves its bright colors and gold-plated jewelry. It was found in the ancient graveyards of Kydonia (present Chania). Early Hellenistic period. It’s probably connected to an Alexandrian workshop.

Electricity-free Egloo heater uses only candle power to warm a room
Electricity-free Egloo heater uses only candle power to warm a room

This terracotta heater uses candles to store and gradually release heat, allowing rooms to be warmed without electricity. The base of the device has room for four tea lights, which are placed underneath a metal grill. Two terracotta domes are then placed on top, with an exterior hole allowing warm air to circulate up and into the room.

Electricity-free Egloo heater

Terracotta stores and slowly emits heat, meaning it radiates warmth even after the candles have gone out. According to designer Marco Zagaria, the device takes five minutes to warm up and equates to a cost of 10¢ to heat a 30-square-metre room for five hours.

“The air intake of the external dome facilitates the outgoing of the warm air stored between the covers, allowing thermal exchange with the room environment,” said the designer.

“After only 30 minutes the temperature of the environment surrounding the Egloo will be increased between two and three degrees.”

The monthly cost of Egloo is around 3.0 euro – significantly less than using an electric heater. Its compact shape was designed to be easily moved from room to room, allowing owners to place it nearby. Handmade in Italy, the heater is available in several different colours and finishes, including enamelled and natural versions.

Learn more about this electricity-free Egloo heater at deezen.com

What would you do with a lump of terracotta clay? Would you build a new flower pot or perhaps a new wall for your property? There’s no project too big or small for terracotta! Contact us to discuss with our team your next project.